By Minerva Newman
CEBU CITY – The Philippines through the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) has secured wider access to novels, textbooks, and other printed materials currently limited in distribution and production by copyright law, for more than three million visually-impaired Filipinos.
This was made possible after the Philippines deposited its instrument of accession to the Marrakesh Treaty to Director General Francis Gurry of the World Intellectual Property Organization last December.
This is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) in charge of administering this treaty. Amb. Evan Garcia of the Philippine Mission to the UN and Other International Organizations facilitated this event.
IPOPHL director general Josephine Santiago said that with increased access to textbooks, novels, and other printed materials, the blind, visually-impaired, and otherwise print-disabled persons are given an opportunity to further their education and cultural appreciation.
Santiago stated that the spirit and intent of the Marrakesh Treaty will not only help reduce the ‘book famine’ experienced by these individuals, but will significantly empower them to seize opportunities that access to information has opened, and pave the way for a more inclusive society.
According to the World Blind Union (WBU) report published at its website, the Marrakesh Treaty is the first legislative norm that has been developed to support the UN Convention on the Rights and of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) which many African countries have ratified.
The goal of the treaty according to WBU is to help end “book famine” experienced by people who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise, print disabled who cannot access most of the published books.
Santiago said that with the country’s accession to the treaty, the Philippines agrees to provide some exceptions and limitations to rules in its national copyright law to allow converting published works in formats accessible to the blind, visually impaired, and otherwise print disabled persons (VIPs).
According to Santiago, the Philippines has already introduced the intent and spirit of the Marrakesh Treaty through Republic Act No. 10372, the latest amendment to the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines.